Falling in love with India
"An easy way to start in India"
Just getting off the plane at Diabolim you can tell it is different. The heat comes down on you like a blanket. Lots of taxis to choose from - no air con - try to get used to it. Negotiate your fare before you get in. It takes about an hour to get to Benaulim which is in Southern Goa.
It's not so touristy as Northern but there are several guesthouses and a posh hotel or two. In a guest house you can expect to pay less than £5 a night and there will be a private shower and water closet. Some of them have a cafe where you can get breakfast and beer and maybe snacks and bottled water. There are lots of restaurants and it's nice to go to a cafe for breakfast where you can get eggs on toast, porridge with banana and coconut, mango juice, pineapple lassi. There are wonderful shacks on the beach where fresh grilled fish and salads are available as well as spicy cuisine, breads and rice. The food is not like the Indian takeaway at home! Supper may set you back another £5. Goa is one of the few places in India where alcohol is available and it is very cheap and good quality.
I stayed in the same guest house on two occasions. It had marble floors and a balcony. There was a ceiling fan but no air conditioning so it never got really cool but I don't like the damp coldness anyway.
The stall holders come from the neighboroughing state of Karnataka and sell alsorts of fabulous materials - sarongs and clothes, bedspreads, wallhangings, and jewellery. You need to haggle and one of the nice things about Benaulim is that you can go down to the beach on the back path and don't have to go past all the sellers each time - it can get a bit wearing. Lots of girls also sell on the beach, which is illegal, but they can do henna tattoos and it can be quite nice to leisurely choose your presents while sunbathing.
The beach just goes on for ever and early in the morning and later in the evening are good for swimming as it can get ridiculously hot during the day. You can adopt a beach shack and stay there for the day and go in and out of the sea and read, eat, drink. Some have freshwater showers and many have tvs playing the cricket(in the season) and will want to borrow your cds to play on their system. There are fishing boats and men taking water buffalo down to the sea for a wash! and dogs snoozing in the sand.
Many young people from other parts of India and Nepal come to Goa to work. They work as waiters in the cafes and cooks. Some local people are fishermen and some Goans work away on cruise ships. They often send money back to build guest houses for their families to take in tourists. There is no shortage of modern facilities, money changing and internet access. There are trips to local sights and local buses into the nearest town where there is a great market and banks with hole in the wall facilities. You can buy cds and tapes really cheaply of Indian music and Hindi pop is fantastic. There is a cinema. I persuaded a new friend - Karnatakan stall holder Sharan to come with me to talk to the stall holders and translate but many people speak English and there is a local paper in English which is a must read!